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How Should Dictionaries Define Racial Language?

Linguist Geoff Nunberg comments on the how dictionaries have chosen to define words considered to be offensive or derogatory to groups of people.

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Other segments from the episode on April 16, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, April 16, 1998: Interview with Patrick Buchanan; Commentary on dictionaries and pejoratives; Review of Prince's album, "Crystal Ball."

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 16, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 041601NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Patrick Buchanan
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest Patrick Buchanan knows a lot about how the political game is played in America. He was an adviser and speech writer for President Nixon and White House director of communications for President Regan.

Buchanan ran in the Republican presidential primaries in '92 and '96. He has strong opinions about everything political, and has a forum for this opinions on the TV shows "Crossfire" and "The McLaughlin Group," and in his syndicated column.

How he has a new book in which he examine the global economy and makes the case that it's hurting the U.S., particularly American workers. The book is called "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy."

I asked Patrick...

(AUDIO GAP)

... against the global economy.

PAT BUCHANAN, JOURNALIST, CONSERVATIVE PUNDIT, AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the global economy, such as it has been called, is really being constructed for the benefit primarily of trans-national corporations to enable them to maximize profits on their investment. And as a consequence of this what is happening is that these companies are shutting down their factories and they're plants in the United States of America, ridding themselves of their high-paid American and western workers, and moving those plants to third world countries and Asia and Latin America, in order to hire less expensive labor, and pocket the difference profits.

And this is a great benefit to shareholders and executives of these corporation. But it represents a betrayal of American workers, in my judgment. And it represents a virtual economic treason against the United States. And if we are exporting our national manufacturing base, and we're gradually losing our economic independence, and we're losing measures of our own sovereignty. And if the process continues, I think global free trade is really a weigh station on the road to a world government in which the United States of America will cease to be the independent and free self-sufficient nation we believe we've always been.

GROSS: Some of the points that you just made, and many of the points that you make in your book, are points that I've heard a lot of liberal Democrats make about the global economy, such as that we've lost, you know, the manufacturing base here. Many multinationals have moved their base of operations abroad where labor is cheaper, so workers here are getting paid less because now they're competing with workers in countries where the labor is a lot cheaper.

Where do you think you agree, and what do you think you disagree, with people on the opposite side of the political fence who are talking about the same issue you are?

BUCHANAN: I agree with them that there's no doubt about it, when you force American workers who, let's say, average $30.00 in pay and benefit per hour in a high-wage industry, you force them to compete, say, with Mexican workers who may earn $6.00 an hour in pay and benefits, you're going to lose your jobs to Mexico or you're going to force down the wages of those American workers. And in my judgment, we have to ask ourselves who the economy is for.

And to me, the economy is for the people, and the economy is for the country. And it's not the other way around.

So I would agree with trade union individuals who believe we really ought to keep our manufacturing base in the United States because of the high-paying jobs. But for me it is also part and partial of the idea of an economically independent nation, such as the founding fathers, Washington and Hamilton and others had in mind, who knew what happened when a nation's really economic destiny was in the hands of a mother country, and what could happen.

And there's another concern of mine, which is shared by some liberals I believe. It is that the United States is losing it's sovereignty and its power of decision over it's own destiny.

Let me give you a small and a large example. The World Trade Organization says the United States cannot keep out of the country tuna fish which has been caught in nets that capture porpoises and dolphins. And Americans have a law that we don't want tuna fish, or we want it marked if they capture dolphins in the nets. Now that may be wise or unwise, but it is our law, we passed it and no supra-national body should tell us we have to amend it.

The Europeans, in a much larger example, are about to take us to the World Trade Organization to have our embargoes of Libya and of Iran declared illegal and in violation of World Trade Organization rules. Now I believe a sovereign nation has a right to make these decisions of it's own.

I mean, we have that embargo on Libya because Colonel Qaddafi, we believe, is responsible for the murder of those kids over Lockerbie in Pan Am 107. Those are our decisions. And no one has a right to veto or cancel those decisions or declare them inoperative, or in violation of some international law.

So I think we're moving in the wrong direction in terms of surrendering independence and sovereignty, our manufacturing base, and basically selling out the working men and women of this country who depend primarily on good manufacturing industrial jobs as their weigh station to the American dream.

GROSS: Now, tell me more where you think you disagree with liberals.

BUCHANAN: Well, many feel that we ought to use the trade agreements ourselves to impose our own idea of how an economy should be run, in Africa, for example. Here I agree with Nelson Mandela. He said, "How we run the South African economy is our own business. And yet in this Sub-Sahara Trade Agreement, we offer free trade to nations, but you must do X, Y and Z."

It seems to me the idea of -- it is sort of economic imperialism for us to be telling other countries how they ought to conduct their affairs. I'm a free -- I mean, I believe in a free market in the United States, I have libertarian views about how the U.S. economy should be run. But how other countries manage their affairs is their own business.

GROSS: You used to be a free trader, now you're calling for certain protections. What made you change your mind?

BUCHANAN: Well, I went around this country and I saw that -- I saw the hardship being imposed on communities and towns and neighborhoods. I saw plants being shut down.

I went up to New Hampshire up in the north country, and I walked along the line of factory workers and who had just been laid off, or whose friends has just been laid off. And one of them said to me, Reed (ph) looked up and said, "Save our jobs."

There are people, mainly those running these running these trans-national corporations, who quite frankly don't care much about countries anymore, including their own country. And they certainly don't care about workers.

To them, workers are really factors of production, they're not citizens or friends or neighbors. And I think this attitude is going to be fatal to the Republican party, on a political level. And I think it's wrong for the country.

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan is my guest, and his new books is called, "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy."

We're recording this interview the day before you're going to New Hampshire. Is this a sign that you are flirting with running for the nomination again, the presidential nomination of the Republican Party?

BUCHANAN: No, my friend, it's a sign I want to sell my book where my friends are.

LAUGHTER

And New Hampshire is clearly -- I have a lot of friends in New Hampshire. I haven't been up there, I enjoyed being there. It's 60 miles up the road from Boston. And clearly, I'll be there mainly to sell the book. But I'm going to say hi to the folks who helped me in the campaigns.

And I am looking at the Republican nomination in the year 2000. But I have not made a decision, and will not make a decision until after the election of '98.

GROSS: A Reuters story says that your friends give your chances of running 50/50. What do you say to those odds?

BUCHANAN: My friends know more than I do.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: OK. As a pundit and columnist, your job is to be a provocater. As president, someone's job is overseeing compromise, that is if they want to get any legislation passed. Do you think that you would really have been -- do you think you really would have had a taste for the comprise aspect for actually being in elected office, particularly being in the White House?

BUCHANAN: Well, Terry, I've spent eight years in the White House. I worked for three American presidents, Ford only briefly, but six years for Richard Nixon in the White House, and two years for Ronald Reagan. And I think I know better than any other candidate what succeeds and what fails in the White House.

And candidly, bold leadership such as President Regan repeatedly exercised on controversial issues is often the very best way to lead. Now when you come down to the final point in the negotiation, for example, his famous 30 percent tax cut, he found that he couldn't get it, but he could get 25. And so he did battle for 30 up until the final minute. And then he lined enough votes so that when he cut it to 25, it would take him over the top.

Sure, at some point, you've got to compromise and win something usually, rather than accept nothing. But I think leadership and a capacity to communicate strong convictions -- and I think I have these -- are the real strengths of the modern president in the television age. So I think many of our great leaders have obviously attracted tremendous opposition.

I was not a great fan of the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, but clearly he was a leader. And he took bold stands. And he antagonized the corporate community, and it did not bother him that he had done so.

GROSS: I'd like to hear your thoughts on special prosecutor Kenneth Starr and the job he's been doing.

BUCHANAN: I think Ken Starr's been doing an excellent job. He does not have great political skills. But I think he's done a conscientious job. I think he's been honest and fair to a fault. He has refused to issue any indictments with regard to the president or first lady unless he has overwhelming evidence, which I believe is the right thing to do.

And I think he's been subject to one of the worst campaigns of harassment and abuse and insult and stonewalling that has ever been existed in any White House in my memory. And I am astonished that the national press is, in some cases, indifferent to this or even supportive of it.

He's an independent counsel. He's been appointed by three judges. The attorney general of the United States overseas his investigation. She has never once criticized him, and that he should be subject to personal attack, and that detectives would be investigating members of the independent counsel's office and their personal lives and seeking to out them for sexual peccadilloes, I find this appalling. Nothing like this occurred in the Nixon White House, and I'm astonished so many people sit still for it.

GROSS: What's your best prediction of what will happen after he issues his report?

BUCHANAN: I don't know whether -- my own view is that I think that Mr. Starr ought to probably, if he does have a case of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, that he ought to indict whoever is involved in that conspiracy, and lay his case out in a court of law where everyone is under oath, and where a jury can decide the truth or the falsehood of the testimony rather than this endless spin-doctoring that's going on on all sides in Washington.

GROSS: Do you think there's a possibility of impeachment?

BUCHANAN: Well, it all depends. If the president is discovered to have committed a series of perjuries in his deposition in the Paula Jones case, it would seem to be almost prima facie evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice and deny justice to this woman and to involve others in the conspiracy to obstruct justice and suborn perjury. And such, I think would be, as Mr. Starr said, "a defilement of the temple of justice by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States."

If that is true -- and that's a very very big if, and it's the key if -- then I think the House would have no choice but to consider the impeachment of the president of the United States.

But again, we don't know that. And I think Mr. Starr ought to be left alone to do his job and then lay his evidence out, either in a court of law, which I would prefer, or lay it out in a report to the Congress of the United States, what he's discovered and what he has not discovered.

GROSS: My guest is Patrick Buchanan. He has written a new book about the consequences of the global economy called "The Great Betrayal." We'll talk more after break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(BREAK)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Patrick Buchanan, his new book is a critique of the global economy, it's called, "The Great Betrayal."

Everybody who's been in politics has the phrases that they're best known for, and I think your greatest hits include a few lines that you said at the Republican Convention in 1992. In your speech you said, "There is a religious war going on in this country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America." Give us your update on this religious and cultural war.

BUCHANAN: I think our side is losing it, to be very candid. I think that it is quite clear we Americans no longer agree on many many basic and fundamental things we once agreed on.

I mean, is abortion the killing of an unborn child? Is a partial birth abortion really infanticide, the butchering of an unborn child in the process of it's birth? Is that right or is that wrong and evil?

We don't agree on that. Some believe that abortion is really an advance in women's rights, and a very progressive reform.

On pornography, some think that this is really per se, nasty and wicked, and evil, and an exploitation of women and corrupting. Others say it's a basic freedom.

Even on the issues of drugs, some people believe that whether one takes drugs or not is their own business. Others believe that a healthy society has got to outlaw and prohibit such things.

On issue after issue, we don't even agree on what is right and what is wrong. And those of us who are traditionalist, who believe, if you will, in the precepts of the Old and New Testament, we are clearly somewhat on the defensive in terms of a popular culture, and in terms of media power.

There's no doubt that the radio, I mean, excuse me, the television shows and films today are of such a character that they would be -- they would almost have -- they would have appalled a generation earlier, and I don't know that ...

GROSS: What would you find most offensive in the movies and on television right now?

BUCHANAN: I think the raw sex and the violence and the crudity and the language and the general filth and degradation ...

GROSS: Specific movies or TV shows that you want to mention?

BUCHANAN: Pardon?

GROSS: Are the specific movies or TV shows...

BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, remember, I'm a great fan of, gee, I'm forgetting his name, the young, the black comedian who was so wonderful in "48 hours."

GROSS: Eddie Murphy?

BUCHANAN: Yes, and then I went to see one of his shows and it was -- you know, it was celebrating this character who had sexual relations with as many women as he could, and the language was crude. And I was just so disappointed, and then I walked out that, you know, I haven't been back to see another one of his films.

And I don't watch the shows. I used to love to watch "Kojak" and even "Dallas," which was sort of a spoof. But you watch the comedy shows now, and you watch the entertainment shows, and the language is -- in my judgment, it's very degraded. And it's crude, and it's offensive, and the jokes weren't even funny when I was 13 years old. And here this is being pumped out into the living rooms of America.

And I think that a culture is really like a reservoir. It's the water from which we all have to drink, like it or not. And if the reservoir is polluted, we're all going to get sick.

And that ours is a somewhat sick society is in great measure due to the fact that our culture is polluted with filth and degradation. And it's something of which our popular culture was something of which Americans were proud in the 1950s. And I don't think we're all proud of what's been sent abroad now.

In many countries, they won't even show American films because of that, even though technically we're the most proficient in the world.

GROSS: American pop culture is in many ways dictated by the marketplace, and as everybody knows, sex and violence sells, whether you like it or not.

BUCHANAN: Well sure, pornography sells, prostitution sells, drugs sells. But the marketplace determines the price of something, not the value of something.

GROSS: So what would you like to see in, say, movies and television? Would you like to see controls that make it illegal to show certain things, or?

BUCHANAN: Well I would certainly -- I believe that the Supreme Court should give local communities the right to deal with X-rated movie houses and to deal with strip joints and to deal with -- frankly, even to deal with the quality of some of the cable that comes into the community. This would not bother me as long as the community decides.

I noticed in New York, they're trying to get all this -- these -- what was the sleaze of 8th Avenue, they're trying to get it confined to a separate district. I'm very much in favor of that. And I think the best way to do it is local control.

There are people that want this sort of thing. And there's no way you're going to stop them from getting it. But decent people ought to have a right to have a decent neighborhood and community without this sleaze. And I don't think it's that protected by the 1st Amendment. I think people misread the 1st Amendment. When they say it protects, it's basically a -- you know, a defensive law for pornographers and filth merchants.

GROSS: Now from what I've been reading in the newspapers, the Christian Coalition has been putting the heat on the Republican Party to get back on board with pushing Christian values and the Christian agenda. Do you agree that that kind of heat is needed to get the party back on board?

BUCHANAN: Well, the party certainly needs something, it needs some burr in it's fanny. And I'm not sure the Christian coalition is alone in this. There's a lot of us that feel that there's a -- we have a broad social, cultural, moral, economic tax agenda.

And when we elect a Congress, many of us emphasize different aspects of what we want to see achieve. And what I fear is that the Congress of the United States is enacting few, if any of them. And certainly social and cultural conservatives feel that their agenda has been ignored, even though they're some of the hardest workers in the vineyards.

And so I share their concerns in this area. And I would like to see us -- if we're going to lose, let's lose, but let's stand up and fight for what we believe in and say what we believe in. If we're in the minority in the country, and we're going to get beat, we're going to get beat. That's never bothered me my whole life, and I don't -- we elected these people, at least to be our representatives, to stand up and speak out for what we believe in, and to have votes recorded, and to stand up to Mr. Clinton and the war room and the crowd down at the White House, not really to compromise and to run away. If they do that, what's the sense of bringing them back?

GROSS: You said it's among the axioms of politics that the residence of the intellectual is on the left. Do you feel like you are a contradiction of that?

BUCHANAN: Oh, I don't -- I've been called a lot of names. But nobody's ever called me an intellectual, so I don't mind that.

GROSS: But do you think of yourself as an intellectual on the right?

BUCHANAN: No. I think of myself as a journalist and a commentator, and a White House assistant and a speechwriter and a candidate, and an author. But I think to call me an intellectual, these are fighting words.

LAUGHTER

GROSS: This is a bad thing? Did I sound like I was insulting you?

BUCHANAN: No. I just -- it's just my view that I am what I am. And I would prefer the terminology you just used -- I just used.

GROSS: OK. Truly though, was that an intellectual and insulting thing to say?

BUCHANAN: No, it's not, it's just that I consider myself as I said, I'm a middle-class fellow who writes books and does journalism and speaks. And I think I'd leave it at that.

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan, he's written a new book about the consequences of the global economy call "The Great Betrayal." He'll be back in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(BREAK)

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Pat Buchanan
High: Journalist, conservative pundit, and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan. His new book is "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy" (Little, Brown and Company).
Spec: Government; Politics; Pat Buchanan

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Patrick Buchanan
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 16, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 041602NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Patrick Buchanan
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:30

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Patrick Buchanan.

He has a new book about the consequences of the global economy called "The Great Betrayal." He ran in the last two Republican presidential primaries and says he hasn't yet made up his mind about the next one.

Your speech at the Republican convention in 1992, which I quoted from a little earlier, alienated a lot of Republicans who thought that what you were saying was a little extreme. Do you have any regrets about that speech?

PAT BUCHANAN, JOURNALIST, CONSERVATIVE PUNDIT, AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I really don't because the night after that speech, George Bush shot up 10 points in the polls. Any speech that is memorable, and one as remembered as long as that is, has got to have said something serious and controversial. And the fact that people still speak about it six years later tells me that I think that we really touched the heart of an issue when I said there is a cultural and religious war going on for the soul of this country.

I think people apprehended the truth of that on both sides. And I think it explains the hostility of the reaction to that speech as well as the enormous reception it got across the country.

For the first time in a Republican convention, the opposition candidate came out swinging. Mr. Clinton was outraged, he claimed by the speech, and normally candidates are silent during the opposition convention. He came out, his whole attack room, and his war room came out. And I think that pointed to the effectiveness of it.

And the fact that Mr. Bush and the Republicans sort of ran away from these ideas, I think insured their defeat, because with the economy in such bad shape in 1992, and with foreign policy off the table, because the Cold War was over, the great strength, as we found out in 1994, of Republicans was their traditionalism and conservatism, especially on moral and cultural issues. I think if the Republicans had stayed the course under fire, they would have held the White House.

GROSS: I think the one thing that gives people a lot of reservations about your ideas though, for instance, the religious war, is that some people assume that when you talk about religious values, you're talking about your interpretation of your religion; your interpretation of God; the Christian conservative interpretation of religion and God, which is different from a lot of other Christian interpretations of God; a lot of other Jewish interpretations of religious values; a lot of other -- and there are other religions in this country I'm not even mentioning, Muslims in America and so on. But there's a lot of ways to be religious even within Christianity and Judaism...

BUCHANAN: Well, my...

GROSS: ... and many people feel that you're asserting a very narrow interpretation.

BUCHANAN: Well, I -- look, the -- my interpretation of what is right and wrong comes out of the Old and New Testament. It comes out of natural law, it comes out of tradition.

GROSS: Well, it comes out of your interpretation of the Old and New Testament is the point I think that many people would make.

BUCHANAN: Well, listen, look. It seems to me that when it comes down to certain fundamental basic things, that there is a right and there is a wrong. And it seems to me while all of us are sinners, you have a moral obligation to speak out and say when you think something is wrong.

Now the -- people are offended by this. They have always, people have always been offended when such things are said, whoever said them. And I think I have the same right, for example, to speak out and say that I believe pornography and filth are wrong, that abortion is evil and wicked, as for example Dr. King did when he spoke out and said segregation is wrong and that we have to live up to the meaning of our creed.

He was a Christian minister. He said what he saw as a contradiction, not simply of the American promise, but of the Christian creed. And obviously, I'm going to speak out of my tradition what I believe is right and wrong.

GROSS: But I think that your critics feel that when you talk about religious values, you speak as if all religions agree that abortion and homosexuality are immoral and all religious leaders...

BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, of all...

GROSS: ... don't agree on that.

BUCHANAN: Well let's take traditional Judaism and the Islamic faith and traditional Christianity. And quite frankly, the views of all the great men down through history are that homosexuality is unnatural, immoral and wrong, that it leads to, not only the destruction of the soul but it leads to personal, horrendous personal difficulties. I think this is truly demonstrable.

But it seems to me I've got the same right to come out and say I believe this, that it's immoral, unnatural, and wrong, as in our -- under our constitution, someone who is an active homosexual has to come out and say it is a healthy, moral and legitimate lifestyle, and ought to be put on the same level as traditional marriage. And civil rights law should be changed so that homosexuals -- because of their behavior, nothing may be done to discriminate against them in the workplace.

They can say that. They can argue for their point of view. And I argue for my point of view. I don't see what the problem is.

GROSS: In 1996, you pledged to rescue the republic from the grip of the "Godless new world order." What is the Godless new world order?

BUCHANAN: I think it's the emerging world government we see in the International Momentary Fund; a UN which is claiming more and more authority and power of nation states; a world court which tries to tell Virginia whether or not it can execute a rapist murderer; and a World Bank which is redistributing the wealth of my country. All these embryonic institutions of world government, I think ought to be opposed. And the United States ought to really maintain it's faithfulness to the final toast of John Adams on his death bed, which is "independence forever."

I believe in America as a nation-state: independent, free, self-sufficient, forever. And I do not believe we ought to yield an iota of American sovereignty to any global institution. And I will spend the rest of my days fighting these gradual encroachments on the sovereignty and independence of my country because I am an American first.

GROSS: My guest is Patrick Buchanan. He has written a new book about the consequences of the global economy called "The Great Betrayal."

We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(BREAK)

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan is my guest today. He has a new book called "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy."

You worked for Richard Nixon from 1966 until he resigned in 1974. How did you first meet him?

BUCHANAN: I was caddie at the Burning Tree Country Club in Maryland when I was in my early teens.

GROSS: Were you already interested in politics at that time?

BUCHANAN: Oh, I was very interested in politics. I grew up in Washington, DC. And we didn't have a vote for a mayor or student council or Congress and -- or anything, and so none of us cared about local politics because there were no local politics. But I loved to read about foreign policy and national politics and great national quarrels.

And I was a very alert little kid. And so when I went around the Burning Tree Country Club, I knew exactly all who those fellows were. And I knew exactly what they were saying when they were yelling to each other and they thought they were having private conversations.

GROSS: You were, among other things, a speechwriter in the Nixon administration.

BUCHANAN: Among other things, yes.

GROSS: And you wrote the silent majority speech.

BUCHANAN: I think the president deserves more credit -- President Nixon, usually with the speechwriter would go through eight or nine drafts. And by the time you got to the final draft, you could barely recognize any of your own language in it. They're all very much in his own formulation.

But yes, I worked on the great silent majority speech. I worked on his speech that announced the Cambodian invasion. I worked on Vice President Agnew's address in DeMoines in which he took on the networks. And it was carried live on all three networks in one of the most famous vice presidential addresses ever.

I've worked on a number of foreign policy speeches. I worked on Ronald Regan speeches as well.

GROSS: Did you come up with the phrase "silent majority?"

BUCHANAN: No, I did not come up with that phrase, "silent majority." But I had urged the president to use an old phrase, "the forgotten Americans," in a number of speeches which he popularized and middle Americans. And -- but "silent majority" I believe was his own phrase in that address.

GROSS: And the thing for Spiro Agnew as a vice president you came up with pusulanimous (ph) pussy-footing?

BUCHANAN: Well, I wrote an awful lot for Mr. Agnew. He loved -- he loved alliteration.

GROSS: And what was the context of that?

BUCHANAN: I don't recall the exact context of it. But he certainly -- Spiro Agnew went from, in his early days, when he was considered something of a joke coming in as vice president, to being the most respected man in America, the third most respected man in America after Billy Graham and Richard Nixon in 1969, because of these speeches basically, which challenged and took on and denounced the over-privileged kids on campuses, who were ripping up the campuses, breaking the laws, and in their demonstrations against us, and against the Vietnam war, which John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had gotten us into.

And Agnew became the tribune of middle America. And he was an enormously popular figure until he got caught up in what was a very foolish, foolish scandal which destroyed his career and his future.

GROSS: Did you feel betrayed by Watergate? This was, you know, Nixon was your mentor.

BUCHANAN: No, I did not. I think Richard Nixon made some mistakes. And I was mature. And I wasn't a child in Watergate. And things like this happen and mistakes were made by the president of the United States, serious mistakes that cost him his presidency.

Richard Nixon gave me nine of the most interesting, exciting and controversial years of my life. He gave us some tremendous victories in 1966.

In 1972, you recall we crushed the Democratic Party, 49 states and 61 percent of the vote. Nixon and Agnew had the American people in the palm of their hand. And it's to my -- it is to my regret and of course to their eternal regret that they lost it all because of foolish decisions, which were of relatively inconsequential when you consider the great stakes that were at hand.

But the greatest problem of Watergate was frankly, that the -- our opposition and adversaries used it to undermine the American cause in Vietnam. And 15 million people lost their freedom and millions lost their lives in Cambodia and Vietnam as a consequence of the breaking of the Nixon presidency. And that is the real loss to America, that everything for which those American men sacrificed and died in Vietnam was dumped down a sewer by the people who brought down the Nixon White House.

GROSS: What do you think the scenario might have been if it weren't for Watergate and if President Nixon remained in office?

BUCHANAN: I think he might have won the Vietnam war or at least maintained the south Vietnamese government by using American air power.

GROSS: Now I think, you in a way, defended Watergate by saying that you defended the belligerent politics of the Watergate era. Do you think belligerent politics have changed much since the late '60s and early '70s?

BUCHANAN: Well, I don't know that -- the Nixon Administration did not come into office looking for a fight. We knew we came into a city where both houses of Congress were controlled by the opposition.

The Democratic Party had been thrown out because it had marched us into Vietnam and failed to solve the war, and the Great Society programs were seen as a failure. And there were riots in the cities. And there were demonstrations on campuses. And the American people wanted a restoration of some sense of order and decency and obedience to law in society.

And I think, in a sense, Richard Nixon did a tremendous amount to bring that about. And I don't know that it was belligerent politics on his part so much as it was imposed upon him by an incredibility hostile opposition. I mean, when you have 500,000 people surrounding the White House calling you obscene names, I don't think it's the president who can be called belligerent.

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan is my guest, and his new book is a critique of the global economy, it's called "The Great Betrayal."

An earlier book was an autobiographical book in which you wrote about your coming of age and your family. And you said you got your political education at the dining room table at the end of which sat an authoritarian figure whose political heroes were Douglas MacArthur, Joe McCarthy, and General Franco (ph). What kind of political sense do you think that your father passed on to you because of who his heroes were?

BUCHANAN: I think he passed on the idea that patriotism is important and courage is important and leadership is important, and that you stand by loyally by your -- by people who are in trouble. I remember he called me up during Watergate one time. And President Nixon was particularly down, and he just asked me, "Why aren't you fighting?"

And that was exactly the right question, not to feel, as you mentioned earlier, feel betrayed, or feel sorry for yourself, but recognize that men are human, they made a mistakes, and he was my leader, and he had done wonderful things for me. And it was the obligation of locality to stand by him right until the end. That's what he taught me.

GROSS: In that book also you wrote that your father wanted his children to always fight back. You say, while other boys were being punished for getting into fights as toddlers, we were punished when we failed to hit a punching bag 400 times a day. What value did he pass on to you about fighting back?

BUCHANAN: He taught you that you were not in a world that -- what you might call a liberal world really did not exist. In the real world, you were going to run into very tough individuals and bullies and thugs, and that the idea that you could turn the other cheek constantly was an ideal that you really couldn't always attain, and that you'd be better off in life if you knew how to defend yourself, whether it was with your fists or with words. And I found that very sound advice as well. I think he had a more realistic appreciation of the world than you hear on a lot of talk shows today.

GROSS: Did you share his admiration for Joe McCarthy and General Franco?

BUCHANAN: Well I was only 11 years old when Senator McCarthy made his speech. So McCarthy was gone I guess by the time I was 15. So I didn't -- I followed all that. And, quite frankly, I noticed that when I wrote my other book that 50 percent of the American people supported Joe McCarthy in the beginning of 1954 and only 29 percent opposed him.

I think the reason they did was that they did agree with McCarthy on this point, that the elites who had managed American foreign policy in 1945 had, by 1950, frittered away all of the gains that American soldiers, including my four uncles, had made in World War II. And one of the reasons is because they had been so indifferent or foolish as to believe Stalin and Communism were not evil and were not the enemies and adversaries of the United States.

And so when the war started in Korea and they saw Americans dying, Americans were enraged at this elite establishment. And I think that rage was justified. And while Senator McCarthy was very, very lose in his rhetoric, I think his fundamental point that the great gains of World War II had been frittered away by foolish men, including Franklin Roosevelt. I think the American people believe that then, and I think they were right.

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

GROSS: Patrick Buchanan has written a new book about the consequences of the global economy called "The Great Betrayal."

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Pat Buchanan
High: Part II of Terry's interview with Patrick Buchanan. His new book is "The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy" (Little, Brown and Company).
Spec: Government; Politics; Pat Buchanan

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Patrick Buchanan
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 16, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 041603NP.217
Type: COMMENTARY
Head: Dictionary Definitions
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:49

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Usually dictionaries are used to settle disputes about the meaning of a word. But now the Merriam-Webster "Collegiate Dictionary" is in the news for causing a dispute.

The NAACP and other groups have objected to the dictionary's definition of the word "nigger." The definition reads: "a black person, usually taken to be offensive."

The groups objecting say that this definition doesn't make it clear enough that the word is a slur. Recently, the editors of the dictionary agreed to reconsider the entry in future editions. Was this a case of excessive PC zeal, or did the critics have a point? Our linguist Geoff Nunberg has these thoughts.

GEOFF NUNBERG, LINGUIST: I have to say I feel a certain sympathy for the editors at Merriam-Webster. After all, the dictionary did say that the word "nigger" was usually taken as offensive. And there was a usage note after the entry that described the word as perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English. That note, by the way, was almost wholly ignored by the critics of the definition.

With a condemnation that strong, I can see how lexicographers might have been puzzled by the vehemence of the reaction. But then, not all readers are that sophisticated about dictionaries. And, in fact, when you look at the coverage of this story, it's clear that even journalists and editorial writers tend to have only the haziest idea of how dictionary entries are structured.

Maybe the schools bare some of the blame for this. But the fact is that dictionaries aren't the most user-friendly of books. So it's understand that somebody who's just looked the word up and saw it defined as a "black person," without going on to read the label or usage note might construe it as sanctioning the use of the term.

It may be unfair to charge the editors with racial insensitivity. But they are guilty of bad interface design. In future editions, they'd do well to change the definition to one that puts the disapproval up front the way a lot of other dictionaries do, something like, "used as a disparaging term for black people."

But even if the Merriam-Webster editors where culpable of racism in this case, the fact is that dictionaries haven't always been blameless in the way they deal with words like these. It's a point that has a particular interest for me, not just because I've served as usage editor of the "American Heritage Dictionary," but because I've been involved in an ongoing case involving just this sort of question.

A couple of years ago, I agreed to serve as an expert witness on behalf of a group of Native Americans who brought a petition in the Trademark Commission to cancel the trademark of the Washington Redskins on the grounds that the law prohibits the registration of disparaging terms. You can call a product whatever you like. But if the name if offensive, the government won't give you a special license to use the word exclusively.

The whole issue turned on the status of the word "redskin" in 1967 when the trademark was first registered. There was no shortage of evidence that the word was used disparagingly then, and in fact well back into the 19th century.

But as it happens, no dictionary actually labeled the word as disparaging until the 1970s. Not surprisingly, the lawyers representing the Washington Redskins used this point to argue that the term wasn't disparaging in the 1960s. And they went on to suggest that the only reason the dictionaries later took to labeling the word was in response to political pressures.

It's true that protests about dictionary definitions have a long history. But actually the dictionaries have usually had it coming.

Back in the 1920s, for example, the Jewish community in England started a campaign to get the "Oxford English Dictionary" to attach a label to the definition of "Jew" as a verb, as in "they Jewed us down." The director of the dictionary refused to comply, saying that it's no part of the duty of a lexicographer to pass judgment on the justice or propriety of current usage. It wasn't until a while later that the dictionary abandoned that high handed position and attached a label indicating that the use of "Jew" as a verb was derogatory.

American dictionaries have been guilty of similar insensitivities. In Merriam-Webster's monumental third edition, which was published in 1961, the words "wetback" and "white trash" appeared without any qualification or labeling, and the words "faggot," "queer," and "fairy" were labeled only as slang with no hint that anybody might consider them offensive.

And I should hasten to add that that's exactly how these words were treated in early editions of my own "American Heritage Dictionary." We didn't get around to labeling words like "faggot" as disparaging until the early '90s. Of course, the words have been derogatory all along, it just didn't occur to the editors that there might be something wrong in using a disparaging term to refer to homosexuals or Mexican immigrants or Native Americans until somebody brought the matter to their attention.

In this, of course, lexicographers are no worse that most of the rest of us. But they're no better either. They try their best, but there's no harm in giving them a little nudge from time to time. You can say this is all a matter of political correctness. But then correctness is supposed to be what dictionaries are all about.

GROSS: Geoff Nunberg is a linguist at Stanford University in the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

Coming up, a new CD by the artist formerly known as Prince. This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Geoff Nunberg; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Linguist Geoff Nunberg comments on how dictionaries have chosen to define words considered to be offensive or derogatory to groups of people.
Spec: Dictionaries; Lifestyle; Culture; Linguistics; English

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Dictionary Definitions
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: APRIL 16, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 041604NP.217
Type: REVIEW
Head: Artist Formerly Known as Prince
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:52

TERRY GROSS, HOST: The artist former known as Prince has a new release containing four discs called "Crystal Ball," that he's releasing on his own. No longer signed to a record label or working with a manager, Prince is putting out music recorded over the past few years that his previous employer, Warner Records, was reluctant to put out.

Rock critic, Ken Tucker says "Crystal Ball" is the most entertaining Prince collection in quite a while.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP FROM "CRYSTAL BALL")

ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE, SINGER, SINGING:
Baby, in the heat of the night
You know what to do
Good love
You got your
Cherry pie, apple kisses
Everything is cool...

KEN TUCKER, ROCK CRITIC: Depending on how you look at it, Prince, and sorry, fogey that I am, that's what I'm going to continue to call him for efficient radio purposes, has either had a hard time these past few years, or he's gotten what's coming to him.

Prince is an endlessly productive, extraordinarily hardworking artist who really does see himself as an artist, in the classic romantic sense; that is, someone who creates for the sake of creation, with the commercial byproducts of that creativity, the shaping and packaging of it, another matter entirely.

This philosophy has lead not only to annoying name changes like asking us to now call him "the artist," but over the past 10 years, to record a huge amount of music and then to discover that the record label that first signed him, Warner Brothers, was resistant to releasing all that work because Prince's record sales were slipping and so much of his music was idiosyncratic, uncategorizable, in short, unmarketable.

Where on rock radio stations for example, are you going to place a gentle Prince song like this?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP FROM "CRYSTAL BALL")

ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE, SINGING:
Mary Claire, Denise and Beth
Best friends as far as I could tell
(Unintelligible)
Except for Denise
She was a wild one
She was the beast
She was the one
Who made the group
The original gang of four
Mary Claire, Denise and Beth
Circle of (Unintelligible)...

TUCKER: You can find this four-CD set in a number of major record chains under Prince's own distribution agreements, or get it through an 800 number. But an attempt he made to sell it over the Internet fizzled out.

Working without label of management has it's advantages though. Even though he hasn't had a hit in years, Prince still sells out medium-size concert halls on the strength of a well-deserved reputation as a great live performer. And he get to keep 65 to 70 percent of the profits as opposed to the 35 to 40 percent that other performers with agents and managers and local promoters have to dole out. And it's a lot of fun to see him rip through coarse, tight material like this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP FROM "CRYSTAL BALL")

ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE, SINGING:
Baby, how you wanna
How you wanna be done
Just say the word
And we can start with number one
I go the distance, baby
Do you tell me to stop
I lose myself inside you 'til you get all I got
Talk to me, baby
Ooh
Tell me how you wanna be done
How you wanna be done
Shall I go in and...

TUCKER: That's Carmen Electra, now the co-star of "Baywatch," but previously a member of Princes posse, singing background vocals on that 1995 track.

There's a sense in which Prince's time in the pop music spotlight has passed. To listen to the material on "Crystal Ball," he's still mining that Sly-Stone-George-Clinton-funk-groove with variations of increasingly diminishing returns.

But just when you count him out, he can turn on a dime, his own dime, thank you very much, and surprise you with stuff that's as strong and vital as anything anyone's putting out. And no one has ever accused Prince of not putting out.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic-at-large for "Entertainment Weekly."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP FROM "CRYSTAL BALL")

ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE, SINGING:
(Unintelligible)
What you do to me
If you waste my time
Then it's meant to be
I called your number
There's the beep
Like you told me to
Like a puppet on a string
I will dance and I will sing
I will do most anything
If you promise me to bang, bang, bang...

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.

Dateline: Ken Tucker; Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest:
High: Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the new release by the artist former known as Prince. It's a 4-CD set, "Crystal Ball" (on his own label).
Spec: Entertainment; Music; Artist Formerly Known as Prince; Lifestyle; Culture

Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Artist Formerly Known as Prince
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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